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Drawing attention to a specific user and their detrimental behaviour
#1
Music 
Hello everyone on the LMD portal,

This is my first post on this forum, and I would really have liked it to make my entrance here on a more positive note. However, there is one issue I would like to address about one specific user who has been abusing the system that this website has been built upon for YEARS. I am not going to specify their name in this post to keep the anonymity aspect, but I am confident that most portal users who read this post will recognize the user I am talking about pretty much instantly. That is how notorious this name has been around this portal, especially in the most recent years. I am honestly surprised that when I browsed the Rätselportal forum section entirely, I have not seen a single post regarding this user's behaviour. (If mods have closed / deleted such threads because it creates tension and drama, that is also understandable, and if that is the case, I apologize already for making this post. But I still wish that this post gets read in its entirety so at least my points come across.)

One quick disclaimer that I want to address straightaway is that I have no issues with any user of the puzzle portal who solve puzzles there and do not rate puzzles highly. I completely understand that not every puzzle will suit all solver's tastes, and every solver has the right to rate any puzzle they solve in any way they want, and they do not need to rationalize or validate their decision to that puzzle's author. This principle is also strengthened by the website's rating system, where ratings are shown in an anonymous manner. Yet it is still possible to deduce pretty much any solver's given rating on a certain puzzle after 10 solves if a person checks carefully / frequently enough. Now, if this is a good or bad thing, or the fact that so many users were able to identify this user's notorious behavior and if that should be allowed is a completely different discussion, and have been discussed in many other forum posts that I have skimmed through before making this post. I am making this disclaimer at the start of this post, because this user I am accusing in this post has already caused multiple discussions in other environments and the discussions have always swayed to the direction where people argue about why people make so much fuss about their puzzle's ratings, and that the solvers have the right I described above. However, the core of the problem is not the ratings themselves.

The main problem is that this solver DOES NOT solve the puzzles legitimately.
Maybe they do solve some of them, but there are many occurrences where their solve times are either incredibly fast, or their solve time corresponds very suspiciously to a solve video being released/streamed at the same time. More on this point later / below.

This alone would also not be a problem in itself. If a user of the portal wants to cheat both themselves and other users by just entering solution codes from other sources (which are commonly available with the resurgance of so many amazing youtube and twitch channels and their videos/vods, plus solver softwares available) and boost their stats that way, that is also their own problem.
What causes me to open a forum account just to make this post, is the combination of the two actions I described above. This user does not solve the puzzles in a legitimate way, but also rates these puzzles in extreme ways, and in almost all cases, extremely negatively, causing a significant drop in said puzzles' ratings. (Which, by the way, are A LOT.) On this portal, when a solver sees a puzzle for the first time, they are able to see 4 main points:
1) The puzzle's author, which will or will not have a reputation in the solver's eye
2) How many times the puzzle has been solved
3) The puzzle's difficulty rating (after 10 rates)
4) The puzzle's beauty rating (after 10 rates)

Among these 4 visible points, 3 and 4 are the most likely to influence if the solver checking will actually attempt the puzzle. So while it may not have too much of an effect for the well-established names of the setter community, the puzzle portal has seen a big influx of new setters over the last years (myself included), and the puzzles' first impression is a big deal. The fact that this user is rating such puzzles in terms of beauty while not having solved the puzzle themselves to actually have an opinion on the matter, is in my eyes ban worthy. And while it may differ in users' eyes about what rating is good and what rating is bad, a swing of 4-5% beauty rating (of course depending on how many previous solves said puzzle had, and this user's decision to rate, since they do rate in a big range of 1-4 out of 5) caused by a singular user who did not even solve the puzzles themselves, is extremely detrimental for all the users of this community.

Therefore, to protect the integrity of the community, I want the moderators of the portal to investigate this user's profile, evaluate their solves and take action. If moderators want specific details about this user, I have gathered many data from my own puzzles, plus various other users of the platform that I will gladly share privately to them. None of the data I have is 100% proof that this user is cheating, but when there are 20+ points which 95%+ indicate that their solves cannot be legitimate, I think a thorough research and action is required. 

If you are still with me until here, thank you for reading. Any other user that thinks they have data that fits this "suspicious" category, can freely private message me either here or on Discord (Niverio#8958 is my tag.), or reach out to the moderators themselves. Aside from that, if this post stays up and causes drama, I want all the discussion below to be civil, and stay on-topic. Which means, I don't want the discussion below to devolve into either:


         1) Asking why I (and so many other users) go to extreme lengths to check ratings on puzzles, and care too much about them:
Personally, I do care about ratings because they are the first impression any solver will get from checking your profile. And I do set puzzles with the goal of making people have a good time solving them. If someone does not like the puzzle or certain aspects of it, I think the most optimal way is to communicate and learn what parts of the puzzle are not liked, so that I can improve as a setter for my future creations. And as a solver, I try to leave as much feedback as I can, especially on puzzles that I will not rate "very nice" myself (then I opt for hidden comments), and which aspects of the puzzle I did not like. Although, as said above, I know that no other solver is required to do this, it is just my style.
         2) Why is it possible to thwart the system so that the anonymity is not guaranteed to be kept after a puzzle gets rated:
This was discussed in other forum threads, and I do agree that more steps can be taken to keep anonymity to a higher level. However, this will not stop me from exposing such detrimental behaviour if I notice them happening.

Thank you, and I hope all of you puzzlers have a great time creating and solving puzzles!
Best regards,
Niverio
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#2
I think the problem is that people publish the solutions in solving videos. This should be stopped.
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#3
How can this be the problem to the issues described by Niverio?

Zitat:This alone would also not be a problem in itself. If a user of the portal wants to cheat both themselves and other users by just entering solution codes from other sources (which are commonly available with the resurgance of so many amazing youtube and twitch channels and their videos/vods, plus solver softwares available) and boost their stats that way, that is also their own problem.

(04.10.2022, 23:37)Dandelo schrieb: I think the problem is that people publish the solutions in solving videos. This should be stopped.
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#4
@Niverio: I fully recognize what you are saying and can confirm I have the exact same observations!
I thought it was just me who noticed this childish behavior of the 'player' involved.
I also had taken this personal and wondered why on earth this player continued solving sudokus from since he/she rates them deliberately all at 'not very nice'.

Of course, it's everybody's right to rate a puzzle as he/she likes, but I may expect players here in the portal have the same interest and, in general, like the puzzles they solve.
I mean, if I would rate all puzzles I solve with a relative low rating, it's time for another hobby, isn't it? It should be fun in the end...

So I wouldn't mind if there are taken measurements agains this fellow player.
(Personally I try to ignore the childish behavior and focus more on the positivity that almost all other players display.)
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#5
I agree some actions would be warranted. Without pointing fingers, perhaps not publishing ratings until after 15 and dropping the top 2 and bottom 2 ratings from the calculations would be a prudent approach. IT wouldn't totally eliminate the issue but it would prevent one individual from successfully making the whole community look bad. The downside is it would mean more puzzles may never see a rating.

Like MANY others in the puzzling community, when I see a solve by this individual I automatically add 2-5 points to puzzle rating in my head.

The flip side of this conversation is many setters were leaning towards more and more complex puzzles just to avoid solves by this individual. That's also not fair to the community at large.
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#6
(05.10.2022, 18:21)riffclown schrieb: I agree some actions would be warranted. Without pointing fingers, perhaps not publishing ratings until after 15 and dropping the top 2 and bottom 2 ratings from the calculations would be a prudent approach.  IT wouldn't totally eliminate the issue but it would prevent one individual from successfully making the whole community look bad. The downside is it would mean more puzzles may never see a rating.

I personally think that taking action against users known to be doing this intentionally is way easier than to adjust the whole system around their behaviour. That is one of the main reasons why moderators exist in the first place, to keep the existing system fairly stable against any possible dangers that might expose / threaten it.
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#7
(05.10.2022, 18:21)riffclown schrieb: The flip side of this conversation is many setters were leaning towards more and more complex puzzles just to avoid solves by this individual.

If this is true, I am really speechless because of the impact one individual player can have on a whole community. Incredible...
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#8
There are several issues combined here.

The mere existence of solving videos might be contributing to this problem. If a puzzle author publishes a solving video for one of their puzzles, anyone who watches that video, whether they have solved the puzzle on their own or not, can enter the solution code in the portal; there is no way to prevent that. Puzzle authors who are unhappy with that possibility should refrain from making such videos. For this reason (and others), in my opinion solving videos for puzzles created by someone else should be made only with the consent of the puzzle author. Note: I am not familiar with the legal situation in this matter.

If any puzzle portal user decides to use external help for solving puzzles (solving videos, computer assistance, team solving etc.), they are entirely allowed to do so. This is not considered cheating; the puzzle portal is not competitive (or at least it is not supposed to be). Boosting their stats, as it has been called, is not a violation of portal rules.

A more serious issue might be the rating system. Generally anyone who solved a puzzle is allowed to rate a puzzle. Since beauty (as well as difficulty) is in the eye of the beholder, there is no objectively correct rating; if someone honestly dislikes a puzzle, they are free to rate it accordingly. Solvers who rate every puzzle as very bad though can be considered abusing the system (there is no way they do indeed dislike all puzzles that much and keep coming to the portal); we have yet to discuss how to handle the situation.

However there are other issues about the rating system. From recent forum posts and private messages it appears that many puzzle authors treat the rating system as more competitive as it was intended. A puzzle with a rating below some threshold is considered a failure; I remember at least one author who was unhappy with a rating below 95%. Some authors even went as far as deleting their own puzzles in such a case. If this becomes the norm, any rating that is not very good might become some sort of deviation, and solvers might feel obliged to rate a puzzle as very good even if they do not perceive it that way. Note that even a 75% puzzle is considered "good" on average.

The missing anonymity has been discussed before; if you are dedicated enough, you can find out how any individual solver rates your puzzles. This is not intended, unfortunately we do not have any solution to this problem that doesn't have other flaws.

Finally, it has been suggested that puzzle authors create more and more complex and difficult puzzles just to avoid solves by a certain individual. I seriously doubt that; the trend to complex and difficult puzzles started a very long time ago.
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#9
(07.10.2022, 13:50)uvo schrieb: Generally anyone who solved a puzzle is allowed to rate a puzzle.

I am in pretty much agreement with everything uvo has described. I only want to address this point quoted above: My observations are specifically related to this point in their core, I only made the original post very in-detail and well-rounded to address some side aspects.

But the core is: I do not think this user has the right to rate the puzzles, since the observations suggest that the user does not "solve" them, rather "enters in the solution code". Obviously there will not be any automated system which can detect if a solve has been legitimate or not. That's why I have suggested the moderator team to take a look at this specific user and their actions manually.
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#10
My opinion on this whole situation is that no user should be seriously sanctioned for behaviour that is not clearly stated as unwanted or forbidden. And if such action really takes place, it has to be by agreement of multiple moderators and at least be accompanied by some reformulation of rules. (Although most people I talked to who are in some kind of mod-position seem to disagree with that.)
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